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Two Hundred And Seventy-five Sunrises

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Su Shi

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We have been riding across the longest inhabited continent on Earth for over 9 months, its time to share with you some interesting numbers. 

As you already know, this ride is not a race. We begun in Morocco, riding from the heights of the Atlas, to the fringes of the Sahara desert. We crossed Al-Qaeda afflicted Western Sahara and Mauritania, and entered Mali via the infamous La Route de l’ Espoir. After the vibrant Burkina Faso and Togo, we arrived in Benin, the land of the voodoo. In Nigeria, Africa’s economic and cultural powerhouse, we stopped to volunteer at one of the most successful captivity breeding and wildlife sanctuary projects in the world. In Cameroon we reached the lowest point of our trip - the first major technical breakdown, but also the highest –conquering Mt. Cameroon. The lush Gabon was followed in Congo by a mad rush to the border with the DRC, that was heating up after controversial presidential and parliamentary elections. 

In the DRC we faced our most challenging task yet: with the Angolan borders closed for over landers, the only way out of the country was to ride over 2000 km off-road, across remote rural areas, in the middle of unforgivable equatorial rainy season. It took us 4 extreme weeks of mud, sweat and tears to arrive in Lubumbashi, the capital of the Copper Belt. We marveled at the natural wonders of Zambia and Namibia, from Victoria, the world largest waterfall, to Etosha, one of the biggest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, to Namib Naukluft, the oldest known desert and to the Fish River Canyon, world’s second largest. 

During this journey we rode often in harsh conditions from deserts to high mountains, had our passports retained by corrupt officials in Mali, our GPS stolen in Morocco and got stranded with a burnt clutch on a sketchy plantation in Cameroon. We had to rebuild with the villagers a washed out bridge and to improvise from scratch a temporary fix to a broken chain, so we could ride out of a remote Congolese region. We had been bitten by Tsetse flies and suffered from malaria in the DRC and Namibia. We ate - sometimes unwillingly - unusual dishes such as porcupine, kudu, oryx, camel, grasshopper and caterpillar. We visited the ancient medinas of Meknes, Fes, Marrakech, the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the largest mud-brick building in the world in Djenne and the millennia old civilization of the Dogon. We slept in villages in Mali, Benin, Congo, DRC and in a traditional Himba kraal, but we also met the ex-president of Nigeria, Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, while working as volunteers. We shared our wild camp under the vast African sky with desert elephants and jackals. And if riding around the continent wasn’t enough, we climbed Mt Cameroon, hiked in the equatorial forest in Nigeria, into the gorge of the mighty Zambezi and up the iconic Table Mountain.

Into The World is our work in progress. Every day teaches us more, and we are continuing to improve, as we move through our over-land trials. May our humble story of travelers on a budget inspire anyone who has ever dreamt of breaking away from daily routine.

9 Months of Africa in numbers: 

Journey 

Countries visited: 20 (Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa)     

Number of days spent on the road: 275 (10.06.2011 - 11.03.2012)  

Nights in the tent: 182 (minus 1 in car, 2 on ferry, 90 in real beds - of which 57 while volunteering in Nigeria) 

Distance covered by bike: 32 300 km 

Distance covered towed by another vehicle: 370 km 

Distance covered by public transport (bus): 600 km

Distance covered by car: 750 km - with the Vidals in Cameroon, while bike was broken

Distance covered together with other motorcycles: 550 km (50 ks with James and Bryce @ www.bloodsweatandbeards.com; 500 ks with Reiner from Cape Town)

Distance covered together with other cars: 3600 km ( 700 km in Congo with Alper & Esther + 2900 km in RDC with Vidal family)

Fuel burned: 1776 l

Other teams of overlanders met: 7 (Nadine & Roger by Toyota Land Cruiser, Switzerland; Liana & Denis by Land Rover Defender, France; Oli & Emily by Land Rover Defender, UK; Franck by motorbike, Germany; Julien by Yamaha Super Tenere, France; Vidal family of 4 by Land Rover Defender, France; Alper & Esther by Toyota Land Cruiser, Germany; James & Bryce by BMW 650 GS, South Africa)

Records

Most economical mileage: 4.5% @ average speed of 90 km/h off-road

Least economical mileage: 6.5% @ average speed of 120 km/h on-road

Highest daytime temperature: +46C (114.8F) (Nouadibou-Nouakchott road, Mauritania)

Lowest daytime temperature : +11C (Ring Road, Cameroon)

Record continuous riding (km): 810 (Fish River Canyon Namibia - Cape Town R.S.A.)

Record continuous riding (hours): 13 (Namibia - R.S.A.)

Highest speed: 147 km/h 

Highest altitude reached on foot: 4090 m (Mount Cameroon, Cameroon)

Highest altitude reached by bike: 3050 m (Imilchil, High Atlas, Morocco)

Maintanance

Engine oil used: 9 l

Engine oil filters used: 2

Air filters cleaned: 10 times

Front tires used: 3

Rear tires used: 3

Punctured tires: 0

Front brake pad sets used: 2

Rear brake pad sets used: 4

Rear brake disks used: 1

Sprocket sets used: 2

Chains used: 3

Biking gear washed (times): 7

Bike washed (times): 5

Tent washed (times): 1

Mattresses washed (times): 2

Haircuts: 4

Problems

Offroad crashes: stopped counting on Kinshasa - Lubumbashi off road

Onroad crashes: 0

Crashes with other vehicles: 0 

Stops by the police: 5 (excluding checkpoints and military posts estimated to have exceeded 100 in Morocco and Western Sahara alone, and over 100 in Nigeria alone)

Fines for speeding: 3, never paid (Western Sahara, Zambia)

Breakdowns: 2 (burnt clutch on Ekok - Mamfe, Cameroon; broken chain - DRC)

Technical issues: 9 (abnormally worn chain with o-rings missing & frozen links - Morocco; plastic top box damaged & repaired in Togo; cracked rubber caliper sliders - will change in SA; broken rear brake lever - welded in Kamina, DRC; broken right mirror - DRC; gear lever - DRC; damaged frame for alu boxes - Congo; totaled alu box - DRC; totaled jerrycan - DRC; completely shaved front tyre - DRC)

Damaged gear: 9 (tent - punctured, waterproof seams damaged, leaking; mattresses - valves broken; dry sacks punctured; bike rain cover punctured, waterproof seams damaged; helmet air vents cracked & broken; 1 pair gloves kaputt; bike pants torn in several places; Kinddle screen broken, manufacturer fault; broken GPS - Burkina Faso; inverter broken - Namibia)

Health issues: 5 (altitude sickness - Ana @ Mt. Cameroon; malaria - Ana @ DRC; malaria - John @ Namibia;bee sting - John @ Morocco; dog bite - John @ Togo; dehydration - John @ Mauritania, Mali & Cameroon; skin ulcers caused by bacterial infection - both @ DRC; 3 fallen nails - Ana after Mt. Cameroon climb; contusions due to offroad crashes - John)

Stolen items: 3 (GPS - Morocco; mobile phone - bus in Cameroon; radio - DRC)

Lost items: 15 (pocket knife + whistle - Morocco, tshirt - Togo; 2 tent pins - Cameroon; metal bar for securing aluminum box - Congo Brazzaville; toothbrushes + toothpaste + floss + dry sack - Zambia; insulated water containers - Mauritania, Mali, Nigeria; plier - DRC)

Money & Visa 

Most expensive fuel: 2600 Congolese Franc/liter (2,15 Euro/l) - DRC

Cheapest fuel: 65 Naira/liter (0,31 Euro/l) - Nigeria

Most expensive accommodation: 25 Euro/night - lousy auberge in Kiffa, Mauritania

Cheapest accommodation: 20 Moroccan Dirham/night (1,79 Euro) - camping near Meknes, Morocco (bushcamping is free :))

Local SIM cards bought: 4 (Morocco, Mauritania, Nigeria, Cameroon)

Countries with Vodafone roaming available: 5 (Morocco, Nigeria, DRC, Zambia, Namibia)

Countries not requiring visa for Romanian citizens: 3 (Morocco, Togo, Zambia)



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